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Ministry of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship

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What people are saying about the Guardians and Stewardship Training Initiative

Chief Frank Brown, Indigenous Leadership Initiative senior advisor and Heiltsuk Hereditary Chief  –

"We welcome this provincial commitment to co-create a training initiative for Guardians that supports our inherent rights and responsibility to take care of the land, water and resources within our territories. Expanding Guardian programs will offer much-needed and meaningful employment and economic opportunities in stewardship and foster social, cultural and ecological sustainability. We need this approach now more than ever as we collectively navigate this critical time of climate change and biodiversity loss.”

Jordan Point, executive director, First Nations Fisheries Council of B.C. –

“The announcement of the Guardians and Stewardship Training Initiative highlights important efforts from the Government of British Columbia to implement the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act and recognizes the fundamental contribution of Guardian programs to safety, environmental monitoring and land management in the Province. The capacity provided by this initiative will support First Nations’ ability to steward their lands and waters over which they hold inherent responsibility. This process is an opportunity for B.C. to enable meaningful co-development and design of pathways for monitoring and compliance partnerships with First Nations in B.C.”

Dallas Smith, president, Nanwakolas Council –

“The benefits from this initiative will be phenomenal. The Guardians are well-placed to work with provincial officials in environmental management and protection. Our Guardians know the territories inside out, and they are completely invested in protecting them. They are already working in partnership initiatives with BC Parks and other provincial agencies to achieve shared goals. Supporting them in that work will mean a brighter future, not only for the Guardians and our territories, but for everyone in British Columbia.”

George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy –

“First Nations have been monitoring and looking after their territories for thousands of years, and the numerous Guardian programs established across the province strengthen their traditional stewardship responsibility for their lands. Building a strong, secure future requires a collaborative approach, and this new initiative co-developed with First Nations advances collaborative and effective stewardship of the environment, land and resources.”

Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation –

“Through the Declaration Act Action Plan, we are working with First Nations to address self-determination, cultural revitalization and decision-making over lands and resources. This new training program, co-developed with First Nations, will increase the capacity of Guardians as stewards of their territories and respects Indigenous knowledge of lands and resources.”  

Selina Robinson, Minister of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills –

“Expanding and funding the Guardians program is an important step in reconciliation and self-determination of Indigenous Peoples. Investing in training opportunities so people can get the skills they need to work in high-demand sectors of our economy, such as resource management, is part of StrongerBC’s Future Ready Plan.”

Facts about the Guardians and Stewardship Training Initiative

In the fall of 2021 and winter of 2022, the B.C. government engaged with First Nations to gain a better understanding of Guardian and smiliar programs throughout B.C., which is summarized in the What We Know Summary Report: Guardians Engagement across the Province of British Columbia, June 2022.

  • A need for education and training programs was one of the key findings, as well as ongoing and persistent funding, and support for Guardians to take on new roles and pathways.

Action 2.6 in the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act Action Plan calls on government to co-develop strategic-level policies, programs and initiatives to advance collaborative stewardship of the environment, land and resources, including Guardians programs.

Article 18 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) supports Indigenous Peoples participating in decision-making matters that would affect their rights. Co-development of the Indigenous Guardians training initiative advances this article.

Articles 25, 26, 27, and 29 of UNDRIP speak to Indigenous rights to land, conservation of the environment and financial assistance to support Indigenous conservation of lands, territories and waters.